Since Pope Leo XIII’s landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891, a significant part of Catholic social doctrine has focused on man’s economic life and the challenge of building a well-ordered society rooted in correct first principles and animated by the twin virtues of justice and charity. The Church has boldly engaged the ideologies of the modern age—not only anarchism, communism, and fascism, but also the seductive alternatives of liberalism and libertarianism.
Understanding and applying Catholic social doctrine presents special difficulties. The sheer mass of material is a steep mountain to climb for the non-expert. Developments over time and the different styles of papal authors can give an impression of inconsistency or even contradiction. Agenda-driven commentators ignore or distort whatever they dislike, creating an ersatz magisterium. An Economics of Justice and Charity offers readers a compact, objective summary of the economic teaching of the Popes from Leo XIII to Francis that makes manifest its inner unity, its intended authority, and its perennial applicability. It bears witness to the Church’s living history of ethical wisdom, care for workers and the poor, and urgent desire to “penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel.”
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